THE Chairman of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operator of the private terminal otherwise known as MMA2 located at the Lagos airport, DrWale Babalakin has urged the federal government to make the country more investment friendly to investors by respecting the rule of law.
Speaking during the unveiling of the art gallery, ‘The Art Experience’ and the commemoration of the 16 years anniversary of the terminal in Lagos, Babalakin during an interactive session with journalists, lamented how despite all the world class facilities available in the terminal to make it start regional operations, the government authorities continue to frustrate the efforts after been cleared to do so by the same government.
He decried the underutilisation of the edifice built under the first Public Private Partnership (PPP) and a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement in the sector 16 years ago.
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Going down the memory lane, Babalakin cited how the Ministerial Committee on Airport Security had in 2016 certified the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2, fit for the commencement of regional operations after carrying out the security assessment of the private terminal.
Unfortunately, seven year after the approval, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is yet to grant regulatory approval for the operations after it cancelled earlier approvals twice.
“I am alarmed that we have not commenced regional operations because we went through the entire process, we were certified but we’ve not been allowed to take off. Then the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) is still operating illegally because based on the judgement of the Supreme Court, the GAT is part of our facility. I hope that those who have power and in the position of authority will know that you encourage enterprise when you follow the rule of law. Once you follow the rule of law, your country will become an investment destination but if people are looking at us from afar and say what am I going to do here when simple agreement has not been honoured, it’s not good for anybody in the country.”
While describing the MMA2 terminal as a world class and the best in the country, with the best architects engaged to design the terminal that will stand the test of time, the legal luminary used the opportunity to describe the motive behind the gallery as a way of further giving customers better value for their money while at the terminal.
“The first thing is that it was a deliberate effort. The design was a major assignment, we didn’t just start building, we sat down with the best of architects in the world to design a terminal that will have a flow, it is the flow that has made it easy for people to operate here.”
You can see the link between the car and the terminal, so you are a not going through a disjointed journey because you want to travel, you can see that from when you come off the escalator, it is a seamless process till you board the plane.
“And you can also see that we have been very disciplined, we’ve disallowed passengers from operating on our tarmac, we find a way of transporting them. We think that it is backward to have passengers walking on terminals because it’s dangerous, it only takes one accident and the county will be embarrassed. I think that there was a lot of deliberate efforts to design an outstanding terminal,” he added.
Still speaking on the new art gallery and what to expect more, Babalakin pledged to continue to raise the standard of the terminal and offer travellers an experience that is beyond just traveling.
“The mandate I gave to the management is to create an environment where people can eat, shop, entertain and in the process fly. It is not an environment where you queue in the sun because you want to fly. If you decide to come and fly in MMA2, we have a gallery for flowers, you can buy flowers, have lunch or resolve some communications issues with the companies, you can stay in the Lounge, which have internet facilities and do your business. What we have tried to do is to uplift the standards with the hope that anybody who decides to build an airport tomorrow will have all these standards incorporated into their terminals.” he said.
In May 2007, BASL completed and opened the MMA2 facility under a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) after the previous one built by FAAN was gutted by a mysterious fire.